Combating Nuclear Trafficking in the Former Soviet Union & Eastern Europe: U.S. Nonproliferation Assistance and the Illicit Nuclear Trade, 1997-2009
Weiss, Sarah G.
Lester, Genevieve A.
The illicit trafficking of fissile and radioactive materials emerged as a prominent threat following the collapse of the USSR. In the aftermath of September 11th, the issue has received renewed attention due to the increasing concern that terrorists could acquire the necessary materials to develop an improvised nuclear device (IND) or radiological dispersal device (RDD, also known as a dirty bomb). This study first addresses the challenges to working with nuclear trafficking data and conducts a comparative analysis of trends in open vs. restricted-access databases of nuclear smuggling incidents. The study then turns to its main focus: utilizing open-source data to examine the relationship between U.S. funding for threat reduction and border security programs and nuclear smuggling in the former Soviet Union (FSU) and Eastern Europe. In doing so, it seeks to answer two key questions: First, is U.S. funding appropriately targeted to address known smuggling routes? Second, how has U.S. assistance impacted the number of nuclear trafficking incidents in the FSU and Eastern Europe? In the process of answering these questions, the study also identifies and describes a probable Eastern smuggling route through Siberia to South and East Asia.
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